Column: ‘American Idol’ sensation was regular at open mic

Alejandro Aranda has been wowing them on “American Idol” since March 6. He says he’s a dishwasher from Pomona, a description that, combined with his humble manner and way with an acoustic ballad, have made him a sensation. I delve into his recent past as an open mic and street performer in Pomona and Claremont in Sunday’s column. Photo from March 30 Pomona appearance by Liliana Pardo.

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Column: Coachella acts, but fewer than usual, head to Pomona

Localchella concerts come to downtown Pomona once again. I have the list in Wednesday’s column. Plus: Record Store Day news and, you may be relieved to learn, a few items that are not about music.

I’ve done Localchella column items the past few years and those columns end up in my Top 10 most-viewed online for that year. Probably they’re getting a lot of Google search traffic. No fool I, I make a point of writing them the next year too. Besides, it’s nice to occasionally serve a younger audience — something I, and newspapers in general, should probably be doing more of.

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Column: SB DJ penned ‘Three Stars’ after ’59 plane crash

I follow up my column on “the day the music died” with a local angle. A hokey tribute song, “Three Stars,” that was hit a few weeks after the Feb. 3, 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper was written by a disc jockey in San Bernardino. There’s some Culture Corner items and a Vignette too, all in Sunday’s column.

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Column: Former Byrd John York alights for solo concert in Claremont

I’d been wanting to write about John York for at least a year, and probably longer; I first saw him perform in 2007. The longtime local musician was in a famous band, the Byrds, albeit after their hit-making days were past. Finally, he’s the subject of Wednesday’s column in advance of a benefit concert Saturday at the Claremont Forum.

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Column: Hefty book covers A to Z of Zappa’s music

A new book, “The Big Note,” chronicles all 1,663 Frank Zappa recordings, including a few from his Inland Valley years. It’s for diehards only. That leads off Wednesday’s column, followed by reader reactions to my column last month about not being to ride a bike, a Culture Corner and a Valley Vignette.

Let me tell you about the photo that accompanies the column. After deciding Tuesday morning on deadline to lead with the Zappa item, I was faced with how to illustrate a column about a book. For online purposes, we are pretty much limited to horizontal photos, as a vertical photo takes up about a foot of space and looks too funky. So a photo of strictly the cover was out. What to do, what to do…

Suddenly, a brainstorm: I would use the giant, vintage map on the wall by my desk as a backdrop. Without leaving my chair, I held up the book and positioned it to get both Pomona and Cucamonga’s names in the frame. (The map stops short of Ontario.) It took three frames, as the first one had my thumb over the author’s name (see above) and the second had too much glare off the shiny cover. Secrets behind the columns!

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Cold War Kids’ ‘Drive Desperate’

Tweeting live from Coachella, my colleague Liset Marquez reports that in Sunday’s appearance, Cold War Kids singer Nathan Willett introduced “Drive Desperate” this way: “I just wanna say, we namecheck Pomona in this song.” The crowd, alas, did not go wild. (If they had, I would have a book to recommend.)

The lyrics, from their 2014 album “Hold My Home,” begin like this: “The road/a yellow line unfolds/Jagged then corrodes/Pomona first of all/Machines they rush in a trance…”

I can’t really tell you what it’s about, certainly driving, maybe street racing? The band formed in Fullerton, by the way, and is based in Long Beach. Anyway, no video from Coachella is available, but above is the band performing the song at another festival, Lollapalooza, in 2015.

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